sampsonhuntley

While lawmakers may be balking at his anti-corruption proposals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes the latest case involving Sen. John Sampson only bolsters his argument for new ethics legislation that faces an uncertain fate in the Assembly and Senate.

“It made a bad situation worse,” Cuomo said in a radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom. “In some ways provided more clarity and more certainty that this is the moment. This does give us a moment of reform, an opportunity.”

Cuomo had already been pushing a package of reform proposals in the wake of two back-to-back corruption scandals almost exactly one month ago.

The Democratic governor wants to create a system of public financing, strengthen anti-bribery laws and repeal the Wilson-Pakula waiver that allows party leaders to provide ballot access to non-members.

Cuomo also wans to increase oversight of campaign finance regulations by creating a new counsel within the Board of Elections.

But Cuomo has run into something of a wall on those provisions, with Senate Republicans opposing the public financing component and both Democrats and GOP lawmakers uneasy in ending Wilson-Pakula (Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein backs the repeal).

“I understand the cool response from the Legislature because they don’t want to do it,” Cuomo said in the interview.

Cuomo gave an especially harsh assessment of the 1947 law that has kept minor parties like the Conservative Party and the Working Families Party a force in state politics.

“Wilson Pakula — everyone knows for a very long time minor party lines have been for sale,” Cuomo said. “That’s a harsh statement.”

The leaders of both the WFP and the Conservative Party, who hold sway over not just rank-and-file elected officials but also the chambers leadership, oppose the repeal. The effort is made all the more complicated since the Working Families Party and Cuomo align on the public financing issue.

Still, Cuomo has always sought to seize on moments to strengthen his own leverage over the state Legislature, even in a post-budget session when the law-making playing field is somewhat more even.

There is also an impetus for him to achieve some form a legislative victory on this issue, given that he has sought to portray Albany under his watch as functioning and an end to the Bad Old Days.

In the interview, Cuomo said his job is to “design a system that has fewer loopholes that makes it harder to defraud and easier to find people who do defraud.”